State receives federal BUILD grant for Washington Bridge project

Proposal includes new ramp off I-195 into East Providence

By Mike Rego
Posted 11/7/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The planned reconstruction of the Washington Bridge on Interstate 195, which includes a new ramp in city leading to Waterfront Drive, received a hopeful jolt recently when the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


State receives federal BUILD grant for Washington Bridge project

Proposal includes new ramp off I-195 into East Providence

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The planned reconstruction of the Washington Bridge on Interstate 195, which includes a new ramp in city leading to Waterfront Drive, received a hopeful jolt recently when the United States Department of Transportation provided the project with a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.

The announcement was made Wednesday, Nov. 6, through the offices of Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse along with Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation had previously proposed a $70 million plan to rehabilitate the Washington Bridge’s westbound side. The plan would see the Gano Street exit just across the bridge in Providence closed permanently to be replaced by a new point of egress onto Waterfront Drive in East Providence, something the city’s elected and appointment officials have long sought.

The USDOT has agreed to send the state $25 million in BUILD grant dollars, bringing the total amount of federal funding now committed to the project to $56 million.

Federal BUILD grants are funded on a competitive basis based on their promise of significant local or regional impact. Senator Reed, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, led efforts in Congress to include $1 billion for BUILD grants in fiscal year 2020, contrary to the position of the White House. President Trump sought to zero out BUILD grant funding in his 2020 budget.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, projects for BUILD grants were evaluated based on merit criteria, including: safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership, and additional non-federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.

The new ramp in city is seen as a vital component in regard to the continued redevelopment of the city’s waterfront district. It would link motorists heading to the East Side of Providence northbound towards the Henderson Bridge, while also creating easier access southward to the Warren Avenue basin area.

The Washington Bridge plan coincides with a similar effort announced previously by RIDOT to rebuild the aforementioned Henderson Bridge, which also connects E.P. with its neighbor more pointedly in the heart of the East Side neighborhood. The next phase of the Washington Bridge development, however, has no set start date and a Request for Proposal (RFP) bid process hasn’t begun as of yet. On the contrary, site work has already started on the $88.5 million Henderson Bridge refurbishment.

In a memorandum to members, Waterfront Commission Executive Director Pam Sherrill termed the BUILD grant fund as the “missing link” to provide access to the Waterfront District, adding the city’s efforts to potentially have the ramp constructed there date back to the late 1990s.

The director also credited representatives of Chevron and Live Nation for their roles in demonstrating to state officials how critical construction of a second westbound off-ramp, one with direct Waterfront Drive access, is to economic development of the area.

The memorandum continued, noting the additional lanes proposed for I-195 will also ease traffic congestion on this important interstate connection.

Ms. Sherrill’s remarks concluded, “Both I-195 ramp construction and Henderson Bridge replacement demonstrate(s) the importance of East Providence to statewide economic development.”

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.